Doc News: Ryan Reynolds, “Tabloid” Refuted, “The Life of Muhammad” Attacked

– The attention-hungry subject of Errol Morris’ “Tabloid,” Joyce McKinney, showed up at a Museum of Modern Art screening last week to refute the parts of her story the film allegedly gets wrong, according to Peter Labuza’s blog. She also claimed to be upset about everyone laughing at her expense, just as she had done at the infamous DOC NYC screening I attended last fall (see video of that one after the jump). I can’t say I disagree entirely that the film exploits and makes fun of its character a bit much, but she’s not exactly proving herself undeserving of scrutiny by hammily egging us all on like this. Little does she realize, I guess, is that in addition to her own personal agenda and attention-seeking, she’s also just making people more interested in the film. Hopefully she will regularly turn out for screenings (perhaps she could clone herself?) when IFC releases the doc July 15. [via IFC News]

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Doc News: “The Thin Blue Line”, R.J. Cutler, Cee Lo Green

– Last week Errol Morris tweeted the first major report of the passing of Randall Dale Adams, who had died of a brain tumor in October at age 61. Adams was one of the two main subjects of Morris’ classic “The Thin Blue Line,” he being the wrongfully imprisoned man who was exonerated in part by the film itself. He had spent 12 years behind bars for a Dallas police officer’s murder he didn’t commit. After his release he sued the filmmaker over the rights to his story, which seemed a bit like biting the hand that unlocks your prison cell, and after that he disappeared from limelight (Morris stopped talking to him after the legal matter) and apparently ended up in Ohio, in a city called Washington Court House, where he died. Since Morris’ tweet more lengthy reports and obituaries, such as this one in the NY Times, have gone out. One of the most famous documentary figures of all time, it’s sad to hear this news. If you’ve somehow never seen “Thin Blue Line,” it’s on Netflix Instant. In lieu of a decent clip from the film, check out a bit of Philip Glass’s score after the jump, specifically “Adams’ Theme.”

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Doc News: Herzog, New Academy Membership, Silverdocs, Ryan Dunn

– Werner Herzog‘s next documentary has been retitled from “Death Row” to “Gazing Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life” and has been picked up by ZDF Enterprises for worldwide TV rights and theatrical distribution outside the U.S. and UK. The filmmaker is quoted by Variety as describing the film as “a gaze into the abyss of the human soul,” though more literally it involves interviews with Texan death row inmates, including: “two men convicted of triple murder, another who killed his girlfriend and her two mentally retarded sons, and a woman — one of only 10 on Texas’ death row — charged with abducting a newborn baby and killing the child’s mother.”

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Doc News: “Connected” Acquired; CIA-Produced Film Discovered; “Superheroes” on HBO

– Tiffany Shlain’s “Connected” (formerly subtitled “An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology”) has been acquired by Paladin four months following its Sundance debut, according to indieWIRE. The distributor will release the doc in the fall, beginning with a bow in San Francisco this September ahead of the usual NYC/LA opening. I saw the film in Park City, where I was impressed with its ability to balance a personal first-person story with an informative exploration of, well, everything. At the time I wrote a note about it being like a sequel to “We Live in Public.” Mix in the ambition, if not necessarily the levels of achievement, of “Sherman’s March” and “The Tree of Life,” and I’m maybe still with that note.

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Doc News: Brad Pitt; “The King of Kong” Remake; Wim Wenders; Divine

Brad Pitt has allegedly been confirmed as narrator for Terrence Malick’s upcoming IMAX documentary “Voyage of Time,” which will apparently be like “Tree of Life” without all the pesky human drama stuff. (Hopefully Malick can also one day give us a version of “Tree of Life” that’s just the human drama stuff without the ineffectual space-time context. Or Sean Penn, who is hardly part of the human drama stuff because he’s so lacking in anything resembling a human being. Anyway, that’s a discussion for another place.) Up to now, Pitt’s involvement in documentary has surprisingly been fairly slim. He has an executive producer credit on “God Grew Tired of Us,” appears in Spike Lee’s “If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise,” and can currently be heard supplying part of the voice-over narration in Harry Shearer’s “The Big Uneasy.” I actually don’t see any certainty in the claims that Pitt will be attached to this film, since the L.A. Times’ 24 Frames blog only references an old outline that gave us the initial notion in the first place. But it’s probably going to happen anyway.

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Listen to a Track from the SXSW-Winning Score for “The City Dark”

One of my favorite documentaries out of SXSW this year is Ian Cheney’s “The City Dark,” a film that explores the fading night sky, which we take for granted, and the problems with artificial light polluting our lives and planet (residents near an Upper West Side Duane Reade store in NYC know this well lately). The doc took home a prize for best documentary score, which is by Brooklyn’s The Fishermen Three (collaborating with producer Ben Fries), and now you can sample one of the great tracks from that score (here or here). Titled “Western Space Dance,” it’s kind of like if AIR did something with a plucky western score-style guitar. Strangely enough, a twangy song by All India Radio just came up on my Pandora mix, which is also quite comparable.

I mentioned the score in my review for Cinematical:

Compared to ‘King Corn,’ ‘The City Dark’ is a less informative and seemingly less crucial doc, but on an aesthetic level I enjoyed it a lot more. It has a kind of abstract and new age-y tone, rendered by the jangly ambient techno score by The Fishermen Three and Cheney’s quiet, contemplative voice-over narration.

Check out the trailer for the doc, which also features some of the music, after the jump.

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Doc Talk: Oscar Winners vs. Classic Documentaries

Doc Talk is a bi-weekly column at Cinematical.com dedicated to non-fiction cinema.

Which film is more likely to become a documentary classic, ‘Inside Job’ or ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’? Regardless of our preference, we can all agree Banksy’s Oscar-losing fan favorite is a more timeless story and will likely be more enjoyable with repeat viewings. Charles Ferguson’s Academy Award-winning look at the financial crisis will certainly remain a great piece of historical document but probably won’t be revisited often for entertainment or artistic value. And sadly, like many timely docs, it could even one day be forgotten, like Lee Grant’s 1986 Oscar-winning Reagonomics critique ‘Down and Out in America,’ which is pretty obscure only 25 years later.

Before announcing the Best Picture winner Sunday night, Steven Spielberg made a comment clearly meant to appease Team ‘The Social Network’ by implying that losing the award still puts a film in good company (his examples being ‘Grapes of Wrath,’ ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘The Graduate’ and ‘Raging Bull’). The same goes for the Best Documentary Feature award. ‘Inside Job’ joins the likes of ‘Woodstock,’ ‘Hearts and Minds,’ ‘Bowling for Columbine’ and ‘Man on Wire.’ ‘Exit,’ meanwhile, joins a group including ‘In the Year of the Pig,’ ‘Streetwise,’ ‘Capturing the Friedmans’ and ‘Encounters at the End of the World.’

Continue reading this column at Cinematical.